Category Archives: Plants & Technology

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Can The Devastation By Bark Beetles Be Stopped With A Sound Recording?

Bark beetles — whose numbers have reached outbreak levels throughout the West — are hard to keep away from trees. One solution may be to confuse them by playing their own sounds, distorted into a maddening cacophony, back at them. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Spinach Leaves Used To Mend Damaged Human Hearts?

In a series of experiments, the team cultured beating human heart cells on spinach leaves that were stripped of plant cells. They flowed fluids and microbeads similar in size to human blood cells through the spinach vasculature, and they seeded the spinach veins with human cells that line blood vessels. These proof-of-concept studies open the door to using multiple spinach leaves to grow layers of healthy heart muscle to treat heart attack patients. (Click on title for full story.)

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We Don’t Need No Stinking Bees. Robotic Pollinators

“The findings, which will have applications for agriculture and robotics, among others, could lead to the development of artificial pollinators and help counter the problems caused by declining honeybee populations, We believe that robotic pollinators could be trained to learn pollination paths using global positioning systems and artificial intelligence.” (Click on title for full story.)

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Entrepreneur Aims To Clean Up Plastic Waste With Plant-Based Biodegradable Products

The entrepreneur, who is a biology graduate, is happy to demonstrate the bags are not harmful—he put some material from a cassava bag into a glass of hot water, watched it quickly dissolve, and then gulped down the resulting concoction. (Click on title for full story.)

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Why Are Canadian Municipalities Spraying Beet Juice On Icy Roads?

What do you get when you mix beet juice and salt? A nicely de-iced highway! This unusual combination of ingredients is becoming more common as cities and municipalities realize how effective it is at keeping roads clear and reducing the amount of salt needed. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Using Sound To “See” Inside Tree Trunks

Living trees can rot from the inside out, leaving only a hollowed trunk. Wood rot in living trees can cause overestimates of global carbon pools, timber loss in forestry, and poor tree health. Understanding wood decay in forests is of special concern in the tropics because tropical forests are estimated to harbor 96% of the world’s tree diversity and about 25% of terrestrial carbon, compared to the roughly 10% of carbon held in temperate forests. But how do foresters and researchers see into a living tree to measure wood decay? They use sound. (Click on title for full story.)

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From Military Training Bullets To Ecological Regeneration: Bullets With Seeds

As the DoD phrases it, in a new call-for-proposals, although “current training rounds require hundreds of years or more to biodegrade,” they are simply “left on the ground surface or several feet underground at the proving ground or tactical range” after use. Worse, “some of these rounds might have the potential [to] corrode and pollute the soil and nearby water.” The solution? From bullets to seeds. Turn those spent munitions into gardens-to-come (click on title for full story).

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New Understanding Of Plant Polymers May Make Wooden Skyscrapers A Reality

Molecules 10,000 times narrower than the width of a human hair could hold the key to making possible wooden skyscrapers and more energy-efficient paper production, according to research published today (Click on title for full story.)

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Leaf’s Photosynthesis Inspires Solar Drug Manufacture

Dutch scientists have developed an artificial leaf that can act as a mini-factory for producing drugs, an advance that could allow medicines to be produced anywhere there is sunlight. The work taps into the ability of plants to use sunlight to feed themselves through photosynthesis, something industrial chemists have struggled to replicate because sunshine usually generates too little energy to fuel chemical reactions. (Click on title for full story.)

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Will The Next New Fabric Come From Wasted Pine Needles?

Pine trees are an important source of timber—600 million are chopped down each year in the EU alone. But while the trees are harvested for their wood, billions of pine needles go to waste. Or, they could be used to make Forest Wool, a new material (click on title for full story).